We are community members and linguists at the University of California, Santa Cruz working to strengthen and preserve the Zapotec language of Santiago Laxopa in Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as the surrounding towns of Guiloxi and Yalina. Alongside linguistic research to better understand the language, we are creating a dictionary and collection of texts for use both by the community and by scholars.


As the dictionary continues to grow, it will become a comprehensive resource for community members learning the language. Audio recordings show how each word is pronounced.


The collection of texts is an invaluable storehouse of linguistic and cultural knowledge, containing myths, traditional narratives, personal anecdotes, and instructional monologues, as well as sets of related sentences.

Audio and text on this site remain the intellectual and cultural property of the language contributors who created them. Audio may not be copied for any purpose. Text may be copied only for non-commercial, research, or educational purposes, provided the source of the material is cited accordingly:

Santiago Laxopa Zapotec Dictionary and Texts. 2016–2019, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz. http://zapotec.ucsc.edu/slz/

Cited material may not include the entire website or substantial portions thereof. Please be advised that these resources are under development and are continuously being revised. Any errors are unintentional and not the responsibility of language contributors. We welcome your comments or suggestions for changes by email.

The origin of Laxopa

Spoken by Fe Silva-Robles

Map of Santiago Laxopa

Sene' kate' besezue', kate' gulghe' yesh tsetu'un, gulghe'n ga'n sene' Bti'alaage'e. Na nake' na yesh zxen. Na sene' kate' sjanite' bido'o ke lu'u yeshe'n, sjanite' na'. Na sene' bsia zxen gule' bse'etj. Na tsso'ob bido'o ka'. Na bene' lage tssaklazhe' dze yisenite' bido'o tsen na. Na bsu'une', besechalghe' na sene' cheghdzu dzjasuadzu yoble. Na kan guke'n bese'etje' gan zuatu' na' na'a, gan gulghe' yesh tsetu'n. Na besegale' yesh tsetu'n Laxop. Na ka'n guk gulghe'n na. Na desde ka na sjanite' na'a. Na yitu yilate' bene' yeshe'n jasezue' Ya'alin. Na yilate' bene' yeshe'n na jasezue' yeshe'n zua kwit ya'adon, [Lox]. Ka'n guk gulghe' yesh tsetu'n.

They said when they used to live there, when our village was born, it was born where they called Betijalaga. It was a big village. They were saying that children lived in the village. So, they said big eagles came down. They were eating those children. People didn’t want their kids to live in that place. They talked, and they said we are going to move to another place. That’s why they came down where we are right now, where our village was born. They called our village Laxopa. So that's how it was born. Since that time, they lived there. A portion of the citizens went to Yalina. Another portion of the citizens went to live in a town next to the mountain, [Guiloxi]. That's how our village was born.

About Us

Our project began in 2016 as a class in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Since then, several of us have continued to study the language, working with speakers from Laxopa, Guiloxi, and Yalina, both in Oaxaca, Mexico and in California.

Class Picture

Class participants: Lauren McGarry, Maho Morimoto, Fe Silva-Robles, Chelsea Miller, Kelsey Sasaki (front row); Jake Vincent, Jeff Adler, Tom Roberts, Steven Foley, Maziar Toosarvandani, Nate Clair, Jed Pizarro-Guevara (back row)

Current Participants

Brianda Caldera
Steven Foley
Christopher Garcia
Maho Morimoto
Azusena Orozco

Jed Pizarro-Guevara
Kelsey Sasaki
Maziar Toosarvandani
Matt Wagers

Past Participants

Jeff Adler
Jacob Chemnick
Nate Clair
Brittney Johnson
Lauren McGarry
Chelsea Miller

Tom Roberts
Alissa Trowbridge
Jake Vincent

Recent Publications and Presentations

  • Steven Foley, Nick Kalivoda, and Maziar Toosarvandani. 2017. Gender-Case Constraints in Zapotec. 22nd Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of Languages in the Americas (WSCLA), April 22.
  • Maziar Toosarvandani. 2017. Reaching agreement early (and late). Asking the right questions: Essays in honor of Sandra Chung, Jason Ostrove, Ruth Kramer, and Joseph Sabbagh, eds., 124–138.
  • Jeff Adler, Steven Foley, Jed Sam Pizarro-Guevara, Kelsey Sasaki, and Maziar Toosarvandani. 2017. The derivation of verb-initiality in Santiago Laxopa Zapotec. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, Austin, January 7.
  • Maho Moriomoto and Jeff Adler. 2016. Phonation types in Santiago Laxopa Zapotec. 5th Joint Meeting, Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Society of Japan, Honolulu, Hawaii.